- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco sued President Donald Trump on Tuesday over his move to cut funding to immigrant-protecting “sanctuary cities,” calling the executive order unconstitutional, a severe invasion of the city’s sovereignty and downright un-American.

The U.S. government cannot “put a gun to the head of states and localities” to carry out federal dictates, City Attorney Dennis Herrera said at a news conference with Mayor Ed Lee.

“This is not a step I take lightly, but it’s one that is necessary to defend the people of this city, this state and this country from the overreach of a president who has shown little respect for our Constitution, states’ rights or the rule of law,” Herrera said.

Trump signed an order last week to withdraw funding from sanctuary cities that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, prompting demonstrations throughout the country. The order did not specify what kind of money could be pulled.

San Francisco sued on the same day California lawmakers advanced a bill that would provide statewide sanctuary for immigrants by restricting local law enforcement from cooperating with U.S. immigration authorities.

Other sanctuary cities have promised legal action. San Francisco’s complaint, filed in Northern California’s federal district court, names Trump, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly and acting U.S. Attorney General Dana J. Boente. A spokesman for the president did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

At least 30,000 people live in San Francisco illegally, Herrera said. Sanctuary advocates say communities are better when everyone, regardless of immigration status, feels safe reporting crimes.

San Francisco receives about $1.2 billion a year in federal funding for services that include housing, health care and homelessness. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the federal government from withholding money.

Pratheepan Gulasekaram, an immigration and constitutional law professor at Santa Clara University, said the city appears to be solid ground.

He cited a 1997 Supreme Court decision that ruled the federal government cannot require local law enforcement to run a background check on prospective handgun purchasers.

“The broader constitutional question is whether the federal government has any ability to dictate the way states or cities or police departments go about managing their own officers and their own affairs,” he said.

The debate over sanctuary cities reached a fever pitch in 2015 after Kate Steinle, 32, was shot and killed on a popular boardwalk. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who was in the country illegally after multiple deportations to his native Mexico, was charged with murder and pleaded not guilty.

Lopez-Sanchez, who told police the gun fired by accident, had been released from a San Francisco jail despite a request from federal immigration authorities that he be held in custody for possible deportation.

Trump often cited the Steinle case during the campaign.

Many other cities and counties in California and across the country refuse to detain immigrants for deportation agents out of legal concerns. A federal court has ruled that immigrants can’t be held in jail beyond their scheduled release dates.

Since then, federal agents have been asking law enforcement agencies to provide information about immigrants they are seeking for deportation, if not hold them.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide